As a Tokyo-based writer, I will introduce you to various aspects of pop culture such as manga, anime, movies and music. I want to spread the joy of Japanese pop culture around the world.
Hello otaku readers of MANGA.TOKYO! I’m Mokugyo, an anime lover and avid writer for your favorite anime website.
Winter in Japan is cold. I’m not good with the cold. AND it snowed here in Tokyo back on November 24. I wouldn’t have wanted to go outside if it were a normal day. But that wasn’t a normal day because I went to Harajuku to see Hideaki Anno’s Studio Khara exhibition!
The exhibition was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Studio Khara. It was held at Laforet Museum in Harajuku on November 23-30, 2016. The ticket was very cheap for such a big event (500 yen) and visitors were allowed to take pictures (not very common in Japan.)
I know that many overseas fans are not able to visit Japan to go to these exhibitions, and that’s why I want to share this experience with you.
Studio Khara is an anime production company founded by Hideaki Anno in 2006. After producing Neon Genesis Evangelion with Gainax, Hideaki went solo and created Khara to produce Rebuild of Evangelion. The Japanese spelling of Evangelion changed from the ‘エヴァンゲリオン’ of the 90’s to the new ‘ヱヴァンゲリヲン’. Both words are pronounced ‘Evangelion’, but the second spelling uses old Japanese katakana characters that are not in common usage anymore.
Hideaki wanted to remake Evangelion so that a new generation of fans could appreciate the series. He also started Japan Animator Expo with the purpose of educating the next generation of animators. Young directors can produce their own original works and expose them through Japan Animator Expo.
I got to learn a lot about the history of Studio Khara at this exhibition through the original art display of Eva, the masterpiece of Studio Khara, through templates of Shin Godzilla, and the introduction of works from Japan Animator Expo.
The first thing I saw when I went inside the venue was the original art display for Rebuild of Evangelion. There was a lot of original art used during the production of each series, 1.0 You are (Not) Alone, 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, and 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo.
You can experience how each movie is made, beginning with the highly-detailed original art. Hideaki Anno says, ‘the audience looks at the people’s face on the screen first. We understand the character’s feeling and the story by recognizing the people’s face and looking at the eye movements. You can get the character’s expressions from the original art, too.’
Giant warrior, appears in Tokyo is a short special effects movie produced and written by Hideaki Anno.
Giant Warrior is an imaginary lifeform from Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. What many people don’t know is that Hideaki Anno was in charge of the Giant Warrior art in this movie when he was young. He leaned the meaning of being an anime director while working for Hayao Miyazaki, and because of that relation, he was allowed to use the character in this movie.
Thie short film was produced for an exhibition held in 2012 called ‘Director Hideaki Anno special effect movie museum, seeing the tricks of Showa and Heisei with miniatures.’ Later on, it was screened along with Rebuild of Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo.
It features special effect techniques using miniatures instead of CGI, similar to Ultra-man and Godzilla. Nowadays, this kind of special effect techniques are decreasing due to improvements in CG. That is why Hideaki Anno held the exhibition, to preserve these techniques for later generations.
The model of the Giant warrior used in this movie was displayed at the Khara exhibition. An interesting fact about this model is that you can replay the movements of the Giant Warrior by controlling it from behind. This idea came from Bunraku, the Japanese traditional puppet play.
Due to its recent success, what attracted the most visitors was a model of Shin Godzilla (the movie was released as Godzilla Resurgence outside Japan). The newest addition to the famous Godzilla franchise was directed by Hideaki Anno, so Studio Khara were actively involved in the creation of the movie.
The Godzilla in Shin Godzilla is computer generated. The model above was made beforehand to help create the CG model. The first difference compared to the older monsters is its long tail. Then, in the movie the monster has three forms, but enough with the spoilers. You can read more in this amazing article.
There was a short anime work made just for the exhibition called Ookina Kabu (Kabu).
Hideaki Anno’s wife, Moyoko Anno, is a popular manga artist known for Hataraki man and Sugar Sugar Rune. She drew a manga about the history of the studio, which was animated by the staff at Studio Khara. Hideaki Anno and his crew are comically drawn in the anime. It’s a story about putting a seed in a field, growing a bug turnip and pulling out the turnip together. The name is a pun on the word Kabu, which means ‘turnip’ in Japanese, and Kabushiki Gaisha which means ‘stock company’ in Japanese. The turnip that everyone tries to grow represents the works that Khara has produced.
The short film represented Moyoko Anno’s thoughts about the name of Studio Khara. There’s a scene where Hideaki Anno is exhausted and worn out after making 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. Who else could have depicted this story than his wife who has seen Hideaki Anno’s struggles from up close?
The venue also had a Hideaki Anno’s portrait drawn by Moyoko Anno!
In the latter half, there were displays from Animator Expo. They played movies and displayed the original art at the same time. One of the most recent works to come out of Animator Expo is The Dragon Dentist, which is part of the Winter 2017 season.
There are many anime studios in Japan, but Studio Khara is unique in both its history and the works it has produced. Producing anime is not its only focus; it also tries to educate the next generation of animators and is also trying to save the culture of special effect movies. It’s not easy to keep making anime, but I would like to look forward to director Hideaki Anno and Studio Khara’s future works!
What about you? Let me know your thoughts on Hideaki Anno and Studio Khara!